Top Religious Sites in Barcelona
Credit: Victor Korchenko/All Canada Photos/Corbis

Barcelona is a very tolerant city, and one loyal to its multiculturalism. With a long Jewish tradition (especially visible in Girona, a town outside Barcelona), a significant Muslim immigration over the past few decades, and the obvious role of Catholicism, the capital of Catalonia is attuned to many religious traditions. So it only makes sense that sacred sites are spread across the entire city. No matter what your faith, it’s easy to find sites here that are devoted to prayer.

Some of Barcelona's churches are considered masterpieces of architecture, resulting in large crowds of visitors. Most forbid these visits during the rites, so believers are not interrupted or bothered by tourists. I’ve chosen some of the city’s most notable religious sites below, but keep in kind that it’s also a good idea to just explore the neighborhood around your hotel. You’ll almost certainly find some sort of interesting site within walking distance.

La Sagrada Familia

As well as being one of the most astonishing churches in the world, La Sagrada Familia is a true symbol of Barcelona. The masterpiece of the modernist genius Antoni Guadí, this church—begun in 1882 and never finished—is his most widely beloved worked of art. The main chapel is unbelievably beautiful; sometimes masses are held here.

Santa Maria del Mar

This beautiful church devoted to the Virgin Mary is the best representation of Catalan Gothic acrhitecture in Barcelona. This basilica is also known as the "The Cathedral of the Sea" for the famous book of that name by Ildefonso Falcones. The light and the quiet of this space makes attending a service there a very spiritual experience; mass is held here every day.

Centre Islàmic de la Pau

Muslim immigration to Barcelona has been growing since the 1980s, and as a result, nore and more Islamic religious sites have opened to accommodate the faithful. The most important of these is this Center, which is a model of both peace and integration. Although the opening of such a large mosque in Barcelona was a subject of citywide debate, the Centre Islàmic has provided a haven for prayer and learning about Muslim culture.

Església de les Saleses

This beautiful Neo-Gothic church in the very center of Barcelona, built between 1882 and 1885, offers mass every day. The best thing about it is its familial aspect; it is visited by dozens of Catholics from around the neighborhood every day. In my opinion, it is one of the little-known jewels of the city and a very worthwhile for a visit.

Sinagoga Major de Barcelona

One of the oldest synagogues in Europe, this site is now known as Shlomo Ben Adret. First built in the 6th century and rebuilt eight centuries later, the synagogue went was bought and renovated in 2006 by a Jewish association (Associació Call de Barcelona), and reborn as the stunning place of worsphip it is today.